In anticipation of the arrival of our fun and sexy uKeg pressurized growler from GrowlerWerks, we decided to plan a Pacific Northwest road trip from Seattle to San Francisco and back, focusing on great craft beer breweries.
The near circular route we came up goes through vibrant cities, charming towns, National Parks and forests and past mountains, lakes, vineyards, farmland, coastline and even a spectacular river gorge. All of this is highlighted by visits to some of the best craft breweries in the Northwest where a growler like the uKeg can be filled.
The near circular route of this Northwest road trip we came up goes through vibrant cities, charming towns, National Parks and forests and past mountains, lakes, vineyards, farmland, coastline and even a spectacular river gorge. All of this is highlighted by visits to some of the best craft breweries in the Northwest where a growler like the uKeg can be filled.
The entire Northwest road trip takes a little over 30 hours in driving time and we recommend a minimum of 10 nights to stop at every destination listed. However, two weeks would be ideal, especially if you want to balance your craft beer tasting with some of the fabulous outdoor activities which the Pacific Northwest is known for.
We did this initial itinerary by car and staying in hotels. However, we have done similar road trips camping in a tent or an RV and we loved it. Of course, you won’t be able to stay right downtown in places like Portland and Seattle but there are many great RV and camping sites all along this route and as we know the PNW is perfect for getting out in nature. If tenting doesn’t appeal to you and don’t have your own camper there are some great options for renting an RV in the Pacific Northwest.
Check out 6 reasons to go on Road Trip
Note: Many of the drive times are three hours or less so if you want to shorten it to one week that is definitely doable by doing two stops in a day or by skipping some stops altogether. However, as the focus of this Northwest road trip is to taste some of the best craft beer in the country, we have created an itinerary that recommends an overnight stay at each of the brewery destinations. If you prefer to push through and complete this trip faster please be responsible and have a designated driver.
Seattle, WA is the start & endpoint for the Pacific Northwest Road Trip
Seattle (aka the Emerald City), located on scenic Puget Sound, the birthplace of some great music (including Grunge), home to multiple fairs and festivals, and boasting a slew of options for foodies and craft beer lovers it is a perfect start and end point to our craft beer Northwest road trip.
We have created an ideal Seattle craft beer and food tasting guide that you can easily do in one day. The self-guided tour includes three breweries, a distillery, places to eat and also some sightseeing.
Growler Fills in Seattle
Chuck’s Greenwood Hop Shop @ 656 NW 85th St, Seattle has up to 50 craft beers on tap ready to fill your growler
Where to Stay in Seattle
Seattle is so full of great hotels at varying price ranges so we suggest you start by going to site like Hotels Combined which will show you hotels and prices from several different booking sites so you can be sure to get the best deal. Check prices for downtown Seattle hotels here.
Note: If you decide to follow our Seattle brewpub tour we do have a couple of suggestions on that post that are in good locations for the itinerary. One is the Inn at the Market and the other is Hotel Andra.
Stop 1: Portland, Oregon (Seattle-Portland 3 hours drive time)
Portland (aka Beervana or Brewtopia), is known for its many bridges, a vibrant arts and music scene, a delicious array of food trucks and most importantly for this trip it’s abundance of craft brewers. In fact, Portland was at the forefront of the brewery revival in the 80’s and was home to one of the earliest microbreweries.
You really could spend the entire 10 days in Portland and still not get to all of the over 100 breweries in this city. If all you have is one night here we suggest doing our Self-Guided Portland Brewpubs Tour which takes in 4 brewpubs, a distillery and some fun sights and activities along the way.
Growler Fills in Portland
The Growler Guys @ 816 SE 8th Ave, Portland has 50 taps ready to pour so be sure to leave enough time to decide.
Where to Stay in Portland
Hotel Rose-A Stay Pineapple Hotel at 50 SW Morrison St, Portland is a fun and funky hotel with lovely rooms in a great central location making it one of our first choices when staying in Portland. There is also a nice bar and restaurant onsite for some pre or post tour nibbles and drinks and in the late afternoon there are complimentary cupcakes in the lobby! As you can see from this picture I’ quite comfy there.
Stop 2: Hood River, Oregon (Just over 1 hour drive time)
Hood River has a number of breweries and cideries but it’s also a perfect home base for exploring the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Since today’s drive is such a short one you’ll have plenty of time for hiking or cycling post, or in combination with, tastings. Be sure to visit Full Sail Brewing or you can also opt to follow the Gorge Beer Trail but remember your dd!
To find a listing of Hood River breweries go to our “Search” feature and set the keyword for Hood River or search “Central & Eastern Oregon” under the regions dropdown.
64 Taphouse at 110 3rd St, Hood River, offers 30 taps of craft beer options.
Where to Stay
Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa @ 4000 Westcliff Drive, Hood River offers luxury and full amenities among beautifully landscaped grounds at a very reasonable price.
Stop 3: Bend, Oregon (3 hours drive time)
Offering a cornucopia of outdoor activities and sights and a whopping 26 breweries, the little mountain town of Bend is perfect for a balanced experience that satisfies your body’s desire for healthy pursuits and delicious rewards.
Spend the afternoon cycling, hiking or rafting followed by a visit to some of Bend’s many breweries or devote yourself to tackling the Bend Ale Trail. Better yet, spend two nights and cover both. If you decide to follow the Bend Ale Trail please designated a driver, use one of the local tour operators or simply walk part of the route and burn off those beer calories!
To find a listing of Bend breweries go to our “Search” feature and set the keyword for Bend or search “Central & Eastern Oregon” under the regions dropdown.
The Brew Shop @ 1203 NE Third St, Bend, Oregon has a great selection on tap for growler fills as well as a very well-stocked bottle shop and the cozy Platypus Pub downstairs.
Where to Stay
Bend has a bit of everything, from hostels to hotel chains to guest houses to vacation rental apartments and B&B’s. However, if you’re looking for a premier boutique hotel then go with The Oxford Hotel Bend. You can check prices for the Oxford here
Stop 4: Medford & Ashland, Oregon (3-4 hours drive time)
The cool little town of Medford sits in the Rogue Valley near the unique natural site of Lower Table Rock and the average 200 days of sun a year makes it a great spot for outdoor activities. Medford also happens to be the newest of Oregon’s brew towns so once again there is plenty opportunity for a mix of outdoor fun and tastings.
If you’re in the mood for some culture head down to Ashland, ranked one of the best 100 small art towns in America and home to the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
The Rogue Growler @ 454 Highland Drive, Medford offers 51 taps of beer, cider, wine, kombucha and cold brew coffee.
Where to Stay
Inn at The Commons is centrally located, has comfortable and well-appointed guest rooms and full amenities making it our first choice in Medford. Check prices for Inn at the Commons here.
Stop 5: San Francisco, California (6 hours drive time)
You are probably already well aware that San Francisco is a top US tourist destination with a ton of things to see and do, but you may not know that craft beer is now one of the best reasons to visit. Recent years have seen a craft brewery explosion in San Francisco and there are now 120 breweries in the greater Bay area and more than 30 of them are in the relatively small downtown core. This means that if you choose a centrally located hotel you can easily visit many of them without the need of a car. Here is the most recent top 10 list of SF breweries.
Note: The drive from Medford to San Francisco is longer than most legs in this itinerary for two reasons. First, there is not really any breweries between the two stops and second because we suggest spending at least two nights in San Francisco. If you have the time and want to split the journey then Redding would be a good half way point.
Most of the craft breweries in downtown San Francisco will fill your uKeg but they do have some regulations like covering up the logo so check ahead and be prepared.
Where to Stay
San Francisco is a very popular year-round destination with a nice compact downtown area. This means that although accommodations do get booked up there are a lot of good, centrally located hotels to choose from. We suggest going through a site like Hotels Combined which will show all of the options and prices offered on most of the booking sites.
Stop 6: Santa Rosa, California (2 hours drive time)
Santa Rosa is a lovely little town in the heart of the Sonoma Valley wine country. This means that there are scores of fabulous wineries and eateries in the area but fear not beer lovers for there are also quite a few breweries. In fact, Santa Rosa was recently named the “microbrew capital of the US” by Russell Goldenberg of The Pudding making it a perfect stop on a craft beer Pacific Northwest road trip.
There are several breweries in town and all are worth visiting but if for some reason you only have time for one make it the very popular Russian River Brewing Company. Just be prepared to wait for a table on pretty much any night.
Santa Rosa is a great place for craft beer tasting but due to the fact that most of the breweries are small-batch, it’s really not the best place to fill your uKeg growler. Hopefully, you still have some tasty brew left from your last fill in San Francisco.
Where to Stay
The Flamingo Resort at 2777 Fourth St, Santa Rosa is by far our first choice for spending a night or two. This iconic hotel has every amenity, great rooms and has maintained the sexy elegance of the 50’s when it was frequented by Hollywood movie stars.
Stop 7: Ferndale, California (4 hours drive time)
Okay, so Ferndale is not a brew town but it does make for a nice stop on the way back up north. This small, bayside town is full of culture, charm and lovely Victorian buildings as well as being situated next to the Sequoia Park Forest, Garden and Zoo.
If you’re not ready for a brewery break be sure to visit the award-winning Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe in Eureka, just 15 minutes from Ferndale. Lost Coast has been brewing for 25 years and is the 43rd largest brewery in the United States and the huge menu is sure to hold something you’ll love to pair with your pint or flight.
Not sure if Lost Coast is the only place to fill your growler but regardless we’re pretty sure it would be the best choice.
Where to Stay
When staying in a quaint Victorian town you really must stay in a quaint Victorian B&B. The Victorian Inn or the Gingerbread Mansion Inn are both great options. Either place with charm you with the historic architecture and well-appointed interiors.
Stop 8: Eugene, Oregon (6 hours drive time)
Eugene sits at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s wine country, however, this university town is more known for its Ale Trail than wine tasting. The Eugene Ale Trail even has it’s own passport and many of the downtown craft beer tasting rooms are an easy walk from each other making it a great pub crawl. The Whiteaker neighborhood also has walkable breweries along with distilleries and cider houses.
If you can pull yourself away from the Ale Trail there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Rent a bike and explore the many cycling paths, check out the local farmer’s market or get cultured with the local arts scene before dining on a delicious farm to table meal at one of the many restaurants.
16 Tons Taphouse & Bottleshop @ 265 E 13th, Eugene has more than 15 brews on tap to fill your uKeg.
Where to Stay
Eugene has most of the standard chain hotels and since we have yet to find anything more unique we suggest using a booking site like Hotels Combined for your stay in Eugene. Check prices for Eugene hotels here.
Stop 9: McMinnville, Oregon (2 hours drive time)
Just south of Portland in the Willamette Valley is the friendly town of McMinnville. It’s true it is best known for the abundance of wine tasting rooms but and farm-to-table restaurants but there are also some good craft breweries and cideries to try out. Plus it makes a nice alternative to busy Portland on the trip back north.
Be sure not to miss Grain Station Brew Works, Growlers Tap Station & Cider House and McMenamins Oregon. Plus if you’re up for some wine tasting or just some fun we highly recommend a visit to Naked Winery Tasting Room where in their own words they “aim to tease!”
Growlers Tap Station & Cider House @ 1036 North Baker St, McMinnville has 36 ciders and beers on tap to taste and fill.
Where to Stay
Our first choice for staying in McMinnville would be at one of the apartments at 3rd Street Flats. They have two locations right in the historic downtown offering beautifully decorated suites with full kitchens and separate bedrooms to sleep 2- 6 people.
At this point, you are less than 4 hours from Seattle so the option is there to head straight back stop off in Portland for one more taste of Oregon craft beer. Use our “Search” tool for a lisitng of Portland breweries.
Pin It For Later
Full Disclosure: GrowlerWerks provided us with a beautiful uKeg to try out on our road trip. We loved it so much that we convinced them to supply another to give away to one of our lucky readers. As always our opinions are 100% our own and we have no hesitation in recommending this product.
Writer, traveler, wine & food lover and co owner of Discover the Pacific Northwest and Live Dream Discover.